In response to that post below, Going, going ... I’ve kept track of a month’s worth of reading. Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman; The Corner That Held Them, by Sylvia Townsend Warner; Life, Death, Prizes by Steve May; Stray by Amanda Dalton; The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright. That’s not a bad collection, is it? God, it’s a big chunk of my month. A lot of time spent with people who don’t exist, who inhabit made-up worlds, and have fictional problems.
I enjoyed all of them, but the one I want to talk about is the one I’ve just started. The Art of Fielding by Chad Hernbach. I’m only about 40 pages in, but I’m already loving it. It’s the book that left a hole in Jonathan Franzen’s life, apparently. That’s what it says on the cover – ‘It’s left a little hole in my life, the way a really good book will.’ What’s that going to look like? A book-shaped hole? I know what it feels like. I’ve had some bad days lately, days when you feel frustrated and got at and puzzled and infuriated all at once. Coming home on those days it’s good to hug the kids, it helps to have a couple of glasses of wine, but it’s also great to pick up a really good book, like The Art of Fielding. To sit down with it somewhere quiet and comfortable and start reading. The consoling power of literature. It’s like remembering something. Oh yes, this, it’s coming back now, it slipped my mind for a while there, but this is so much more important than all that other stuff. And in a sense this fiction, these words arranged on a page, it’s more real than that other stuff too. I relax into it, feel the stress ebb a bit, feel pleasure tentatively creeping in. That familiar dual pleasure in the story and characters first, but also in the craft, in the knowledge that you're in capable hands. I’ll miss this book when it’s gone. Till the next one.